03-20-08I just found a ruined Calphalon pan on the street and refinished it. It takes about an hour to resurface a pan and quite a bit of muscle work. How to restore the surface of a metal pan :
Start with a metal scouring pad (brass is good, an SOS pad is okay too). Scrub HARD mainly in a back-and-forth manner. The goal is not to get the dirt off, it's to actually remove the top layer of metal from the pan's surface, so you have to scrub hard hard hard and a long time - 5 minutes or so. Make sure you get in the corners too. There should be a large amount of fine metal powder building up in the pan, wipe it out with a towel and move on to the next step :
Metal sanding paper. You want at least 2 and preferably 3 different grits of sand paper, you want the kind made specifically for sanding metal. Start with the coarsest grit and again sand HARD all over. This is where you attack any bumps or uneven spots and try to get a smooth surface. Start with back-and-forth but finish with round-in-circles sanding. Wipe out metal filings with a towel and progress to the next smoother grit. Sand some more. As you get to the finest grit you want to start worrying about your sanding pattern. You don't want to leave big grooves in straight lines from sanding as that will make the food stick to the pan. Your goal is a mirror-like smooth finish. Try to use semi-randomized circular motions so that you are smoothing everywhere and not digging big grooves with hard back & forth sanding. When you think you've done enough, now do that same amount again. Wipe out the very fine metal dust with a towel.
Your pan should now be smooth, but don't try to use it yet. It's still full of fine metal dust. First wash with hot soapy water, and towel dry. Then pour in a little oil and rub it around the pan, then wipe out all the oil with a paper towl. If your pan is cast iron, you need to cure it. It doesn't hurt to cure other pans either. Put in a bunch of shortening (crisco) in the pan to coat, stick it in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes (or 300 for 2 hours, meh). Wipe out the grease after it cools.
Finally we want to get the last bit of metal shavings out. We do this by cooking something to coat and throwing it out. Making a batch of scrambled eggs works fine for this, just cook them up and throw them out. Alternatively I think making a roux would work too and be cheaper. Your pan is now good as new.